In 2001, a man survived being shot outside a bar in East Baltimore. Shortly after the shooting, the victim, who has not been named, told police that he had seen his shooter with someone he knew, a man named Donte Lyle. The victim did not know the shooter, however.
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) reported that during the investigation, police started to suspect one man, but for some reason, put a picture of that man’s brother, Melvin Thomas, in the photo lineup for the victim to overlook. The victim identified Thomas as his shooter and Thomas was arrested and charged with attempted murder. “Melvin was convicted based solely on that testimony, even though Melvin didn’t match the description of the shooter and had no other known connection to the victim, the shooting, or the bar,” reported the organization, which helps to free wrongly convicted individuals.
Thomas sat in prison for years, even after the victim realized the real shooter was still on the street. The victim told police that he was at a flea market in Baltimore when he noticed a person he realized at that moment was the real shooter. He told attorney Booth Ripke of the Nathans & Biddle law firm about this revelation. Ripke took the recantation and additional evidence to MAIP and suggested they present the case to Baltimore’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
“In June 2019, Booth, accompanied by MAIP Legal Director Frances Walters and Baltimore City Paralegal/Investigator Emily Pate, presented the case to the CIU. Despite the pandemic and the limitations that places on investigation, the CIU was able to corroborate the victim’s recantation and gather additional evidence of Melvin’s innocence. Based on that evidence of innocence, the CIU agreed to seek Melvin’s release through a Writ of Actual Innocence. In granting the writ, the court made Melvin the ninth person exonerated through the CIU-MAIP partnership since 2015,” MAIP reported.
On December 15, 2020, nearly 19 years after he was convicted of attempted murder, Thomas was released from prison.
Earlier this year, The Daily Wire reported the story of Robert DuBoise, who was also released from prison with the help of the Innocence Project. DuBoise was just 18 years old when he was arrested for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman. He was convicted of the crime in March 1985 and spent a total of 37 years in prison before he was released after DNA evidence concluded he didn’t commit the crime.
On August 19, 1983, the body of a young woman was found behind a dentist’s office in Tampa, Florida. An autopsy alleged that she had a human bite mark on her face. Police were told to collect bite mark impressions from suspects.
DuBoise’s name came to police after a local resident claimed he “caused problems” where they regularly spent time. DuBoise had never been convicted of a violent crime and cooperated with police, even allowing them to take a mold of his teeth, according to a summary of the case from the Innocence Project.
Bite marks are not a scientifically validated form of forensics, yet DuBoise was arrested and eventually convicted. In 2020, DNA testing found DNA from two males present on the victim, neither of which belonged to DuBoise or the two other men who were implicated in the crime but never charged.
DuBoise was released from prison on August 27.
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